Trenchant Lemmings
"Arrive in a clown car, bursting with anger."
YOUR HOST
Robert Weaver
PRESENT LOCATION
Sydney, Australia
OTHER STUFF
Old Weblog
LibraryThing
23hq Photos
ARCHIVES
NAVIGATION
Older Posts | Newer Posts
PREVIOUSLY
Bomb
Nostalgia
The Great Fleet
Prepare for the Crazy
Smells Like Victory
Metro Dogs
Knowingly
Tony Abbott PM, probably. Srsly.
The Dolphin As Our Beast of Burden
Business As Usual
FEED
blogurl/feeds/posts/full
blogurl/atom.xml
ELSEWHERE
3 Quarks Daily
A Tiny Revolution
Alicublog
Bad Astronomy
Blogarach
Boing Boing
Caustic Cover Critic
Chase Me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Counterpunch
The Early Days of a Better Nation
Ecstatic Days
Empire Burlesque
Exiled Online
The Failed Estate
FAIR Blog
Neil Gaiman
M. John Harrison
The Inferior 4 + 1
Inside Story
Jews Sans Frontieres
Laughing Squid
Lenin's Tomb
Limited Inc.
Antony Loewenstein
The Loom
LRB Blog
Nick Mamatas
Mind Hacks
Neurocritic
Neuroskeptic
Overland
Greg Palast
Riddled
Savage Minds
Mark Steel
Strange Maps
Michael Swanwick
Things Magazine
TomDispatch
Ben Tripp
Verso Blog
Peter Watts
Whatever It Is, I'm Against It
ELSEWHERE ARCHIVE
Bats Left, Throws Right
Deltoid
Drawn!
Eyeteeth
Fafblog!
Larvatus Prodeo
Lawrence of Cyberia
China Miéville
News from the Zona
Dennis Perrin
Pink Tentacle
Adam Roberts
Quotidian Hell
Matt Taibbi
Unspeak
 
The weblog description is a misquotation from Steve Aylett's Indicted to a Party: What to Do, Who to Blame.
 
The weblog title links to the "No Country Redirect" version, for whatever that might be worth.
September 09, 2010
Angles

In comments on the "Let the Great Unhinging Begin" thread, Possum Comitatus makes the same point which would form part of a longer piece I have yet to post:

The problem I have with the ABC isn't bias (six of one, half dozen of the other) - but the seeming lack of intellectual autonomy when it comes to deciding "what is news".

Too often we get some story in The Oz, complete with its particular campaigning angle (The Oz is a campaigning newspaper) - then the ABC picks up that story (often because it *is* newsworthy, but sometimes not) but perpetuates that *same* angle when the facts of the story might not particularly support the angle, or when the reality of what is going on is much more nuanced.

It’s laziness, or cowardice, or naivety or just plain hopelessness. Fran Kelly is the biggest and most obvious culprit IMHO - but it extends further into the organisation.

However one wants to describe it, the ABC is increasingly copying what other news organisations decide is "news" (which can be a small problem, but usually isn't), but also treating the editorialised angle that other organisations have attached to that news content as part of the ABC story as well.
The not-yet-post I refer to is actually the reason I decided to start blogging again, in order to be able to link to, rather than tiresomely type out in full, my argument that the business model of commercial media is to sell audiences and readers to advertisers, and thus the job of commercial media journalists is to provide content which helps their companies sell audiences to advertisers, making the audience the product and not the customer, and bearing in mind that the desired product is not so much "as many readers, viewers and listeners as possible" as "the kind of readers, viewers and listeners the customer wants to advertise to". (And that's the short version.) This rather obvious and derivative heuristic makes most of the behaviour of commercial media journalists entirely explicable, where it would be utterly baffling if one believed journalists have an occupational commitment to accurately reporting the news.

That said, the more pertinent question is why public media journalists persist in the delusion that commercial media journalists are their colleagues, given that they do two completely different jobs. The explanation is probably to be found in human psychology or perhaps the psychology of institutions, the shared job market, schooling, et cetera, or even, dare I say it, in class identity. Whatever the reason, more important would be working out how public media journalists can be persuaded to give up this delusion of a shared occupation (it's certainly not a profession) and start doing the job the charter of their public broadcaster claims they are doing, providing accurate and relevant information to the viewer.

A friend of mine met an ABC journalist at a dinner party (yes, it's going to be one of those stories) who had been to a job interview with the BBC. She said they had asked her to characterise the news culture at the ABC. She asked what they meant. "Well," they said, "at the BBC we take the position that whatever news story the commercial stations are covering we shouldn't be, and we should be covering whatever stories they're not covering. In fact, if we find that the commercial media has picked up a story we covered, we wonder if we've made an error." "Ah," she said, "at the ABC it's the exact opposite. Whatever the commercial media thinks the news is, we follow. The philosophy is to ensure that the ABC covers everything, and nothing but, what the commercial stations cover." If my friend's anecdote is accurate, it would seem the ABC's approach to news is more than a lack of intellectual autonomy but a deliberate corporate policy, motivated by what it would be difficult to know for sure, although a spineless managerial paranoia about getting hectored for "bias" is probably part of it.

I suspect the BBC claim of its independent news values is a tad overblown (and obviously doesn't extend to stories like "London destroyed in tsunami"). If the Beeb does avoid swallowing the British commercial media's idea of what's news, I suspect they are less successful at avoiding a sheeplike embrace of the commercial media's idea of what's journalism. In this regard, too, public broadcasters need to drop the notion of a shared occupation, and drop their aping of the commercial media's adolescent obsession with "scoops" and "exclusives" (which in the day and age of the Internet seem like something out of a 1930s screwball comedy) and concentrate on their charter obligations. "Woohoo! We were the first to report that story!" "Oh, goody. Was it true?" "Erm... oh, you just don't understand the industry." The behaviour of the ABC's new 24 hour channel gives no confidence they understand their real responsibilities, except insofar as they are attempting to be as fast (and loose) as Sky, but failing.


Older Posts | Newer Posts